Terry Southern wrote Easy Rider, Barbarella, Doctor Strangelove
and a host of other classic movies along with searing and clever articles and stories steeped in a hippie intellectualism, and he is certainly a man whose life makes for interesting theater. Despite some missteps, playwright Charles Pike has written a generally interesting semibiographical work, but two distinct plays emerge out of his "day-in-the-life" approach: One is a deep and disturbing, darkly comedic portrait of a mad genius of the '60s (a suitably sardonic Chairman Barnes) disintegrating into professional seclusion. The other is a punch-line-laden vaudevillian romp packed with iconic characters (including William Burroughs played with rich dryness by Roy Allen). The collisions of these two tracks keep either from melding into a singular stage experience. The cast is mostly good, despite some sloppy timing (possibly the result of a jittery opening night). But David LM McIntyre's loose staging dulls some potentially sharp and funny moments. The play is set on the day of Richard Nixon's resignation, a day of joy for Terry and his gaggle, who spend the second act spouting wry liberal vitriol, perhaps tacitly lamenting that their enemy and essentially their purpose is gone. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 Heliotrope, Silver Lake; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (310) 281-8337.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 16. Continues through Feb. 21, 2009